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D.D.C.: Prisoners Are Not Entitled to FLSA Coverage

Shipley, Jr. v. Woolrich, Inc.

Plaintiff, a prisoner in the Federal prison system, filed a Complaint seeking minimum wages under the FLSA.  Citing the longstanding caselaw from around the country, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s Complaint, because it failed to state a cause of action.  Discussing Plaintiff’s lack of 13th Amendment rights or that under the FLSA, the Court stated:

“It is well-settled that the Thirteenth Amendment’s protection against involuntary servitude does not extend to prisoners who are required to perform work at little or no pay. To the contrary, the Thirteenth Amendment clearly excepts involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime after conviction: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” U.S. Const., amend. XIII, § 1. “Convicted criminals … are not protected by the Thirteenth Amendment against involuntary servitude.” Henthorn v. Dep’t of the Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 686 (1994); see also Vanskike v. Peters, 974 F.2d 806 (7th Cir.1992) (stating that prison work assignments are part of the inmates’ sentences of incarceration). Furthermore, “where the inmate’s labor is compelled and/or where any compensation he receives is set and paid by his custodian, the prisoner is barred from asserting a claim for minimum wage under the FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act.].” Henthorn v. Dep’t of the Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 686 (1994); see also Sanders v. Hayden, 544 F.3d 812, 814 (7th Cir.2008) ( “Prison and jail inmates are not covered by the FLSA.”).”